It’s the day after tanksgiving: wake up and smell the stench of war! to be continued
We are filled with righteous indignation standing on Market St, a brief but brilliant sunrise blanketing our backs, as we set out tiny shoes, fancy sequined shoes, sandals, mary janes, heels, fancy dress shoes, discarded and mildewed shoes, with small cardboard tags flapping in the frigid morning air.
Mostly women & children rush past us – well dressed, ‘nicely’ dressed, bright colors, suits, skirts, heels clicking, makeup, hair perfect, clutching shopping bags & the occasional child, more often a teenager and her friends – well fed, unconcerned, focused.
No one in this crowd appears to have the horrors of war on their mind; no one worries about a bomb going off, a child wounded, a mortar soaring.
We have begun placing the shoes along the building’s edge, spacing them about 3 feet apart as usual. We are able to set out shoes on either side of the entrance to the mall before the security ascends upon us, demanding we move the shoes immediately. I am at the truck unloading so I miss the initial interaction but see the wimmin re-positioning the shoes onto the street side of the sidewalk.
I am parked in the 30 minute loading zone for trucks with 6 wheels or more on Market St downtown SF. I have asked the security where the public sidewalk begins and the private bricks end. They do not know.
I have placed shoes in front of what looks like a watch store. I notice 4 men, either white or of middle-eastern dissent, dressed in suits that I imagine costs thousands of dollars – not that I’d recognize such suits by looks but rather by how these men move in these suits – angrily kicking the shoes from in front of the store onto the garbage can across 10 feet of brick sidewalk.
I am astounded. I confront them, asking them what they are doing? I tell them this is an action of shoes representing killed Iraqis and to show some respect. Only one will look me in the eye. Another continues to kick the shows in unwarranted rage. “We sell rolex and (some French sounding word) watches here. How DARE you place this garbage out here – how are we going to sell anything?”
Hmmmm. My very desire, to limit their selling. Could it possibly be this simple, a handful of dirty shoes with pale cardboard tags hanging limply from laces?
I tell him again, I will move the shoes. He needs to stop. He does. They all stomp off thru the glass doors – except the one without the suit jacket, the one who has looked at me.
“Why don’t you go to City Hall or the Federal Building?” he demands. We don’t want you here, you belong over there by the garbage with those shoes he reeks silently.
I smile sweetly – “not to worry, we’re holding everyone accountable, even you.”
He storms into the glass doors, coming back out, going back in – until he is sure every shoe dirtying his sidewalk has been removed.
While I have been moving and setting up shoes, the mall security has called in the SF police. The first officer to arrive is a middle-aged man who appears to be asian, maybe Phillipina. He doesn’t say much after he tries to get us to leave – ha!
He reiterates we are not allowed to set shoes up by the building – he does not know where public property begins. I ask him to find out.
He tells us that the shoes will be removed by the Department of Public Works, who is coming thru to clean the sidewalks in less than an hour.
I smile at him and continue setting up.
The first police officer to arrive in a vehicle pulls up onto the curb behind my truck, which is now parked in the 30 minute zone. He appears to be ordering the womon standing closest to the truck to move it. She slides a meaningful look in my direction. We are not yet done unloading – almost but not quite.
I approach the officer, making a show of pulling out my cell phone & checking the time. “you’re on the job” I try to joke with him – “I still have 3 minutes left on my 30 minutes” I continue.
He is furious, a middle-aged white male truck driver cop. He wants me to move my truck immediately. He tells me I’m parked illegally.
I try to encourage him to come read the sign – a job that appears too much for him. He sputters my truck cannot park there & he’s going to issue me a ticket unless I move it immediately.
Again, I point out the sign, which says 30 minute parking for trucks with at least 6 wheels. My truck has 6 wheels. He tries to tell me they don’t mean 6 wheels like I have, they mean six wheels behind each other – he searches for the word ‘axels’ which I don’t supply for him. I’m flabbergasted.
I tell him this is not the first time I’ve parked in such zones in San Francisco. I am legally parked. I tell him he needs to check the rules. He blusters he knows the rules & he’s going to write me a citation. I tell him he’s wrong, I have the right to park here.
I walk away, keeping an eye on him, find the other wimmin to tell them I am going to find a park for the truck, not because I’m not legally parked but because the time limit is more than over.